Vestibular Migraine dx - actually from NECK?

I am posting in hopes to helping some of you that may be misdiagnosed like I was. MAYBE IT’S YOUR NECK – If you have neck pain, pain behind your ears, base of head, pain behind both eyes (migraines), dizziness, motion sickness, tinnitus, ear pain, popping, pressure, sensitivity to noise, and light, it may be your neck causing all of your problems.

I started out with Vertigo after having a sinus infection. My regular M.D. gave me 7 days of Amox-Clav 500-125mg antibiotics and then another 10 days of a Doxyclycline Hycate 100 mg cap. I was still sick, so she yet prescribed a different one. I had yet to take the 3rd one, when I woke up in the morning with my world spinning, extremely nauseous, and scared. My husband took me to the E.R. where I was dx’d with vertigo. I was given Amoxicillin 875 mg tab for 10 days, meclizine, and Ondansetron ODT. I had to suffer for months with vertigo before I was able to get in to see an ENT specialist that specializes in dizziness and balance. I was sleeping most of the time, because of the vertigo. I started having severe pain behind both eyes, dizziness, sensitivity to light, noise, movement and busy places, ear pressure, ear popping, tinnitus (sounded like seashells), and motion sickness, as well as the vertigo. I also felt like I was hit in the base of my skull. Some days it was vertigo dizziness, other days, just dizziness and a feeling of being unbalanced, as well as the other symptoms as I mentioned.

The ENT specialist dx’d me with Vertigo (BPPV) and Vestibular Migraines (VM). He was able to use the Epley Manuever to alleviate the vertigo problem that was caused from the crystals being dislodged in my ear (BPPV). He wanted to put me on a beta blocker and an antidepressant for Vestibular Migraines. He said both of those may help. I was already on Celexa (an SSRI), so he wanted to change it to a different one. I refused both. I was NOT believing this diagnosis. He wanted to fit me into his box of having a history of migraines and a history of motion sickness, neither of which I had a history of. I kept telling the ENT the back of my head hurt at the base of my skull and behind my ears on the bone. It was being said to deaf ears, because this was not something within his narrative on the new Vestibular Migraine diagnosis.

Since I didn’t buy the VM dx, I was not about to give up. I felt awful and was sleeping all the time. After much research and frustration, I went to a new doctor who felt I could benefit from physical therapy, so she gave me a referral to a Vestibular Physical Therapist (VPT). The VPT said it is my neck muscles causing most of the problems, and believes all the antibiotics affected my inner ear. When I found out it was my neck causing almost all my problems, it was a very happy day, as there was now light at the end of my tunnel.

Through neck exercises, I quit having the migraines and the rest of the symptoms, unless I don’t do my exercises, then those symptoms are back and so is my misery. My VPT found a trigger for the occasional vertigo I have from the inner ear damage. Out of many patterns, a chevron pattern triggers mine. I am doing eye and head movement exercises while looking at a paper with that particular pattern. I am still working on my neck. It is amazing how our neck muscles can cause all of the same problems as VM’s.

Sternocleidomastoid muscles – both sternal and clavicular divisions are what my problem area is and it does cause all of the symptoms of vestibular migraines. The exercises I have been given by my VPT can be found on the internet. I am doing SCM stretch/Side stretch, chin tucks, upper trap stretch, and others, as well as eye exercises to help with the inner ear issue. If you have doubts about having vestibular migraines like I did, have your doctor refer you to a vestibular physical therapist. Your therapist can dx you and show you the proper way to do the exercises that can help you get better!


Welcome Hope!

It’s great you found something that works for you. VM is a pretty big catch all diagnosis. I suspect there are many causes and many different presentations all getting the same label.

Good luck on a full recovery.

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May I ask what antibiotics were you taken?

Thanks for taking the tine to post your story. It will benefit others I’m sure. Even though we’re never so much as spoken before I feel so happy for you with your progress. Your story stands as an example for others to follow, as does your choice of Username. Anybody who can discover an actual physical cause for their symptoms and thus keep out of the VM/MAV wastepaper basket is streaks ahead in the recovery process. To do that however requires an enquiring mind and often much perseverance. Unfair to pick out bits but, thus quote positively screams out to me.

Everybody needs a meaningful diagnosis. One in which they they can truly believe. Above all else.

Sort of ‘Tick Box’Diagnosis in reverse! Such closed minds are no help to anyone. So unscientific.
Thanks again. A very good read. All the very best with progress. Helen

Welcome Hope, and so glad you have found a trigger that you can work with. One of the reasons I seldom see a Dr. about this beast is that (at least in my neck of the woods) they all seem to have their own preconceived ideas about what ails us - or they don’t have a clue and wing it. They are not interested in listening to your personal symptoms if they don’t fit into the boxes that can be ticked to confirm their ideas. Wishing you every success with your treatments and sending good vibes that you can come out of this free and clear. Thank you for sharing!

A neck injury started MAV for me, and whenever I massage a certain tight muscle in my neck I get spinning vertigo, tight muscles in the neck can definitely cause vertigo and migraines

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Whereabouts of that muscle please?

I think it’s called the SCM, for me it’s the part that goes down the front of my neck. Sterno cleido mastoid muscles can cause vertigo apparently, sometime my ear crackles too when I loosen it, but mine is ridiculously stiff

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Cervicogenic Vertigo I think it’s caused. Think that’s what my brother had years ago. Acupuncture cured his.

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I wouldn’t be surprised if a neck injury could cause inflammation/swelling which pinched the ET or injured it directly.

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I have almost the exact same pain in my neck and behind my ears. Someone posted that the neck pain was the result (caused) of the Migraine. I rub that area of my neck and my dizziness subsides. So i was not buying it. I would be interested in what neck exercises you do?

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No too sure about that type of neck. A stiff neck is associated with any/all vestibular problems. Most probably the result either of the brain trying to keep the head still to curb false signals or because people with vestibular problems posture changes or maybe just because they hold the neck muscles taught to avoid head movement bringing on dizziness. The stiff neck association is recognised by VRT and Alexander Technique practitioners alike. I think it’s more usual for these people to experience neck pain at the nape of the neck rather than in front. I know I always have. Massaging it would do nothing for me. I think it’s easy to blame MAV for everything we experience but I would think it a good idea to have any odd persistent aches investigated. After all it might be some other condition easily remedied. Helen


I think I had a neck injury which cause dizziness or cervicogenic vertigo and subsequently I developed MAV too from the shock to the system and I was really fatigued when I got injured so and I know this is just conjecture, I think it overloaded my system

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7 days of Amox-Clav 500-125mg antibiotics and then another 10 days of a Doxyclycline Hycate 100 mg cap, after which I wound up in the E.R. with vertigo. E.R. gave me Amoxicillin 875 mg tab for 10 days, meclizine, and Ondansetron ODT. I updated my post to reflects this since you asked. Thanks & good luck to you.

I hope you will see a vestibular physical therapist and double check that it isn’t just a continued neck muscle issue. I am so happy that I did, as it is a much easier problem to deal with instead of the MAV dx that I had.

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Neck exercises for the Sternocleidomastoid muscles – both sternal and clavicular divisions. You can find them on the internet. I am doing SCM stretch/Side stretch, chin tucks, Upper trap stretch, and others, as well as eye exercises to help with the inner ear issue. I have updated my post to reflect this info since you inquired.

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Jess38, if you can get a referral to a vestibular physical therapist, you may find it is your neck muscles as I have. It causes so many of the same problems MAV does.

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Onandon03, I have updated my post to reflect what muscles are affected for me - . Sternocleidomastoid muscles – both sternal and clavicular divisions. I am seeing a vestibular physical therapist. These muscles cause the same problems as MAV.


. Sternocleidomastoid muscles – both sternal and clavicular divisions

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Well I was on doxycycline 100mg for approximantly 2 months when this started. I was getting a bit nausea and mild headaches sometimes when taking the doxycycline. I was afraid of ototoxicity and still tbh but probably its difficult to get ot from this. Its good that you found some relieve at least with the neck therapy!